New Zealand builders business coach Graeme Owen publishes a worthy blog with ideas that contractors in North America and elsewhere can take into consideration.
For example, he offers some suggestions in this The $uccessful Builder blog posting, part of series about how to handle the “free estimates” dilemma.
1. Give Multiple Options
Include/discuss several options with each part of the home improvement plan. For example include an estimate for that additional room or French doors; standard or executive decks finishing; brick or timber cladding; tiled or wooden flooring; several levels of bathroom fittings; standard or architectural light fittings etc. These options give your clients the feel that you are not rail-roading them to decisions they don’t want to make.
2. Provide Helpful Information
Ask your client to decide which options they think are better for them and give them helpful details to assist them in making decisions. Keep asking questions and keep providing information. Eventually, if you do your part well, they will ask you which option you think is better for them. This is an important step because it indicates that they now consider you no longer simply a builder but atrusted building adviser.
3. Establish Budget
Once you have become a trusted building adviser and before recommending options, it is good to talk about the budget. Usually clients are not prepared to talk about budget until they believe they can trust you. Once they trust you, and have discussed budget, you can make suggestions you know are affordable rather than suggest options that have a price tag that is way out of your client’s reach.
You can read more from Graeme at www.thesuccessfulbuilder.com
The late Sonny Lykos also had some feelings (not good!) about free estimates. You can read them in this old Construction Marketing Ideas blog posting.